Know How / Soils

Expert advice on how to improve and maintain your soil health to produce top yielding crops. Find out when to analyse your soil and how to interpret the samples. Improve the structure of your soil by encouraging earthworms, introducing organic matter and assessing fertiliser needs.

Advice and tips


Analysis: Can farmers be less reliant on fungicides?

Cereal growers looking to reduce their growing costs are increasingly questioning the need for four-spray fungicide programmes. With the focus on many farms shifting to soil health and sustainable farming…


Why soil N testing could save you cash this spring

Last season's unusual weather has led to more variation in soil nitrogen reserves and testing soils this spring will help farmer avoid wasting fertiliser. Most growers were unable to apply…


How early N fertiliser reduces the cost of summer drought

Many cereal growers will be looking to front-load their nitrogen fertiliser applications this spring after last summer's heatwave was blamed for limited uptate of the nutrient, which hit yields. Earlier…


How the potato industry can tackle blackleg

Blackleg is a costly disease in potatoes caused by several pectolytic bacteria that have the ability to infect and break down plant tissue, leading to storage losses and crop rejections.…

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Case studies


How a grower uses cultivations and tech to kill slugs

Slugs have been a major headache for North Yorkshire grower Graham Potter since he switched from a plough-based crop establishment system to direct drilling. But with proactive implementation of integrated…


Grower slashes inputs with soils focus and variety blends

An interest in soil health was the starting point for major changes made to Angus Gowthorpe’s mixed farming system in Yorkshire, the results of which have slashed establishment time and…


Cereals 2019: What UK growers can learn from global pioneers

The Farmers Weekly theatre at this year’s Cereals event in Lincolnshire showcased three farmers and an agronomist from around the world who are pushing the boundaries of crop production. Advice…


Grower plans move to organic no-till on wet land

The best decision Staffordshire grower Tim Parton made during his transition to direct drilling was to sell his power harrow after he made the switch to a Claydon strip-till drill…

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Why herbal leys have been added to arable rotation trial

The benefits of adding sugar beet and herbal leys in arable rotations are being investigated in a long-term rotational study in Suffolk, reflecting the changing challenges faced by growers.  After…


On-farm establishment trial shows best system in a dry year

Dry conditions for the second year in a row have highlighted the importance of establishment method. Systems which allowed crops to get their roots down in search of moisture were…


Can arable farming and wildlife conservation work together?

Farming is coming under greater pressure to halt the decline in wildlife. A major government project hopes to provide some of the answers in coming years, by balancing greater diversity with…


How farmers can help prevent 'mass extinction' of pollinators

Arable farming needs to change in order to halt declines in biodiversity and prevent one of the worst mass extinction events in history, a leading US entomologist has warned. Bold…

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Two growers find no-tillage success in dry and wet soils

Flexibility is the key to success for two no-tillage converts who farms very different arable areas – in some of the driest and wettest areas of Britain.  Simon Cowell has…


Adas warns farmers over soil test rules

Adas has warned farmers not to overlook a legal requirement to carry out soil testing. The stipulation is included in Defra’s Farming Rules for Water, which were introduced in 2018.…


Compaction and erosion ‘a serious threat’ to UK farm soils

About 6m hectares of farm soils in England and Wales are at risk of compaction or erosion, according to an Environment Agency (EA) study. Intensive agriculture has caused arable soils…


Farmers use tea bags to measure soil health

Tea bags are the latest aid being used by arable farmers to assess the health of their soils. First it was cotton underpants, buried by farmers for eight months to…

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Test and reviews


High-tech soil scanner delivers margin boosting data

The latest sensing technology to hit British shores is providing the data required to improve soil management and target inputs more efficiently than ever before. A handful of companies have…


Driver's view: Case Rowtrac reduces compaction in Suffolk

When it was time to chuck in the chief high-horsepower tractor at Home Farm Nacton, Suffolk, production manager Jason Smith decided to break from the norm and took a punt…


New tractor tyre technology offers 18% more traction

The tyre designer’s job, it seems, is never done. As tractors continue to gain power and weight to meet farmer demand for greater performance, new tyre designs are needed to…

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Drainage contractor splashes £400k on state-of-the-art plough

Mastenbroek has built its first UK-bound trenchless drainage plough in more than thirty years for Warwickshire-based Farm Services, which is keen to satisfy a resurgent number of farmers requesting field-scale…


Video: Sugar beet drilling starts as growers play catch-up

Sugar beet drilling is racing ahead between the rain showers on light land with one Suffolk Brecklands estate looking to catch up from its latest start in more than a…


Video: The plan that battered blackgrass in 12 months

Three Cambridgeshire growers are fighting back against a heavy yield penalty imposed by blackgrass with a new establishment system and have seen a dramatic turnaround in just 12 months. Declining…


Video: How to sample your soil for analysis

The quieter winter months are a prime time to get a snapshot of the state of soils and consider any adjustments to maximise fertility and crop potential. Unlike most other…

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